The butterflies are present. So are the fears. There’s no way around the elements that come with a debut, even if experience is on your side.
After years of success, Blanca is now a solo artist, stepping out on faith and into a new season after years as the powerful vocalist in the celebrated hip-hop/pop collective Group 1 Crew. The experience serves her well in some ways — tour miles logged, industry experience, etc.— but Blanca still feels emotions reminiscent of a first go-around. ‘Tis the nature of a debut.
“When you press that reset button, there’s a fresh start as a new artist,” says Blanca. “You might have that familiar backdrop, but there’s also the predetermined expectations that come from it. People know what you can do in one place, but they’re also waiting to see if you can do it again in a new place. I’m still nervous, and it feels like a challenge.”
Shortly after admitting her nerves, Blanca is quick to acknowledge her gratitude for the success and experience of Group 1 Crew. It was, after all, a home for her in numerous ways — a safe community as a brand new Christian and artist that allowed her to blossom in her own time.
“When I was seventeen, I gave my life to the Lord,” explains Blanca. “I hadn’t been to church before that, and immediately I got plugged in to this family called Group 1, a group of friends that was like a Bible study. We’d get together throughout the week and on Sundays after church, and we’d read the Word and be accountable with one another. We all were individual artists, so that’s why it was named “Group 1 Crew” when we started as a band. It was a group of individuals, but we all had one common goal.
“The idea of doing solo music was at the forefront in the beginning, but God worked it out that Group 1 Crew ended up getting signed,” she continues. “It was a good season in my life. I was really fearful of being myself and had these insecurities, so being able to travel with the guys was so helpful for me to grow into my dreams — whether a clothing line, writing a book or a solo career.”
Group 1 Crew was indeed fertile creative soil in which an artist could grow. The group’s own success was substantial with five Dove Award wins, television placements, hit singles and tour opportunities. Blanca also appeared on a number of high profile projects during that season, including Mandisa, TobyMac, Audio Adrenaline, Hawk Nelson and others.
However, the last couple of years have brought about an ever-occurring shift. Settling into a family life of her own, Blanca began feeling the familiar stirrings she had even as a young girl — to take the stage under her name alone.
“Fast-forward to now, I am married and we just had our first child, a boy named London,” she says. “I feel like that was a turning point for me in life. This feels like a new chapter, not just physically by having a baby but also the birth of a new season musically. It’s something that’s been working within me, and the Lord has said that it’s time to now bring those things out.”
Blanca’s initial step was an EP released last winter titled Who I Am, a perfect summation of the struggle and growth to find her voice in this new solo skin.
“I remember asking big questions heading into this like, ‘Who am I in this? What do I have to say? What is this all going to be about? What do I want to leave with people?’ In the group, I was able to fill in the gaps. Now it’s all on me. ...